Charles Moore's Mailbag

Modem Magic, AirPort, Base Station Repair, ToyViewer vs. GraphicConverter, and Why Linux

Charles Moore - 2004.10.11 - Tip Jar

MacaRa Modem Magic Article

From Hugh McMillan


I enjoyed your article on the MacaRa Modem Magic, but I was wondering about their support for the AirPort Extreme Base Station modem. I have noticed with a friend's set up that the Base Station modem is much less "robust" than his iMac DV internal modem, and it sounds like Modem Magic would be just the ticket to allow him to maintain a connection.

Many thanks for your attention.

Hugh McMillan

Hi Hugh,

I can't find any scripts directly referencing the AirPort Extreme Base Station modem in the MacaRa Modem Magic 5.8 scripts list, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's not supported.

I would suggest contacting Tracy Turner (links on the Modem Magic Website) and ask him what the story is.


MacaRa Modem Magic Kudos

From R. Friede

Woohoo! At last a prominent online writer gives Tracy [Turner, the creator of MacaRa Modem Magic] the credit he deserves. I've been using MMM for many years to improve my dialup connections. Thanks for telling it like it is, Charles.

Bob Friede

Hi Bob,

Thanks. I've been using Modem Magic scripts for several years too. With a poky pipeline to the Internet like I have, every bit counts.


Re: MacaRa Modem Magic Kudos

Yes, we have a similar situation at our cabin in rural NW Maine where we spend several months a year. Upgrading the phone lines seems to be of no interest to the telco, and satellite Internet is ridiculously expensive - especially for something that fails every time a thick enough cloud passes over. We have satellite TV there, as there's no available cable or DSL, and we're very far away from the nearest broadcast stations. Still, the quality of life there beats home and Comcast cable hands down!

Bob F

ColorIt! for OS X

From Bob Britten

Hi Charles,

I have contacted you before on this issue, and I was wondering if you had any further details regarding when the OS X version of ColorIt! will be released - and what the hold up is?

I gather you have a beta version - how is it shaping up?

Like you, it is still my favorite graphics editor by far!

Thanks for your time in answering this,

Bob Britten

Hi Bob,

I've heard nothing new, but I understand that the MicroFrontier developers are at work on it. I'm very pleased with the beta I'm using. It works pretty much identically to the Classic version. I've noticed no major speed differences (i.e., it's very fast in OS X, too). There are still some rough edges on the beta, but nothing terribly annoying.

To receive an email notification when the OS X version of Color It! will be available, send an email message to:


ToyViewer Column

From R. Friede


I sure wish you had really compared ToyViewer with GraphicConverter. You mentioned GC only once, writing that it does pretty much everything you need. So . . . what's better about TV please, (disregarding Classic-only ColorIt! which I liked a lot too)?

Bob Friede

Hi Bob,

Graphic Converter is a much more powerful program than ToyViewer overall. However....

ToyViewer's advantages over GC are basically four:
  • It's very fast, and GC is sluggish. TV starts up almost instantly.
  • It is very slick to use - I prefer the user interface
  • It's simple: GC will do more, but TV does almost everything I need, and what it can't handle, Color It! and Photoshop Elements can.
  • It's free, while GC costs $35

PowerBook 5300cs

PowerBook 5300From Gary Caldwell

Mr. Moore:

I have a 5300cs I traded for, and I don't know much about them. I'm more of a Windows person . I want to sell it, but it has the Apple Guide menu missing with question mark that goes to the top right of menu bar, and it says in its folder that the extension is missing. How do I get it back, or do you have any files for it, or where can I download needed files? your help will be honored.


Hi Gary,

The 5300 is getting pretty long in the tooth. I have a soft spot for them I used a 5300 for three years as my main workhorse, and loved it.

However, your monetary prospects are not that lucrative. Wegener Media is selling refurbished 5300cs for US$50.

First look in the Extensions Disabled folder in the System Folder to make sure your missing Apple Guide Extension is not there. If it is there, just move it back into the Extensions Folder and reboot. You can also move it using the Extensions Manager in the Control Panels submenu of the Apple Menu.

If it isn't there, I think your best bet would be to do a complete system reinstall, as that probably hasn't been done on your computer for a long time.

If you have a set of system floppy disks, this is pretty easy. If not, you can download Mac System 7.5.3 for free from Apple's software Website:

Also get the 7.5.5 update as well, which will give you the best-performing system for a 5300:

You can make floppies from the disk images or run the installer from the hard drive or from an external disk (i.e., a Zip drive) if you have a compatible drive.


Why Linux

12" iBook 700From Richard Ford

G'day Charles,

I am not a Mac user and never have been (apart from the Apple II in primary school and this game called "Lemonade" that was kinda cool). But I did get my ex-girlfriend to buy an iBook 700. Great value and ease of use.

However, to answer your question: "Why Linux?"

Well, I think I have the answer, and you Mac boys (the normal ones that like computers and not the crazy ones that take every chance to slag off at Windows or something else - sheesh!) provide the answer within yourselves.

Let me illustrate:

Why do I, a desktop Linux user, read Mac sites every day?

Do I want a Mac? No.

Would I like one if I had one? Yes.

So why won't I buy one. Well it doesn't quite "Do it for me" in the same way that Macs "do it" for you. Or the same way Rugby does it for me as an Australian, but not for many of my local Chinese engineers here - soccer "does it" for them.

So why read Mac sites? Well I love to read about you guys enjoying your platform, it reminds me of when I was a kid (I am old and grey and 27 now), playing with my C64 and then 286 and up. I lost the love of computing about the time I left OS/2 behind after many years and went to W95 and started my Comp Sci degree in 1995.

Now being a computer science student and a long time lover of technology, I realised many years later that I just didn't care anymore and that this was a problem. I just used these machines to get a job done, and that was it. The perpetual enjoyment like a kid on Christmas morning was gone.

I thought long and hard about it. As I did a degree in accounting as well, I was perilously close to leaving computers and heading off to the land of P+L sheets. However, at university we used Suns all the time. Then for a part time job while at uni I did some database development and Linux server administration. My sitting on the fence continued this way for a while - all the time keeping tabs on Linux - seeing how it has changed since a FidoNet friend forced it on me in 1992. Knowing that it was impressive and getting better.

Then one day I started using it for desktop work and not just servers. I left W2K behind and made the leap. I had my T3 and phone synching. Bluetooth, GPRS, WiFi, sleep, network, modem, sound, video, etc. Everything just worked on my Dell Inspiron 4000. So was it "Doing it for me" yet?

Not really, as my medicine would not be just using Linux and doing the same old stuff again that I did on Windows or could even do on a Mac.

I really noticed a change in myself, though, when things started to break or new software came out and I had to fix it. Hack it, make something work. Write scripts, explore, get dirty. And then I discovered my love of computers born in an age of DOS 3.3 and lost in an age of "My Computer".

People use Linux not because it is Unix (though I am sure some do). People use it because one can do whatever one wants. The number of times I hear comments about Microsoft on these pages and their restrictive policies, I can't help but notice the hypocrisy of some authors coming from the Apple world. Apple being a company that wants to control hardware and software and force DRM onto people and has a history of weird proprietary hardware. And let's face it - if they could be Microsoft, they would be.

I tired of Windows because it made computing dull. It tried to do everything for me - all automatic. I see the Mac as the same - though more evolved.

Does this make Mac and Windows bad? No. Just horses for courses. I love software and couldn't care less about a piece of silicon on my desk and whether it is pretty or not. Linux gives me unrivaled freedom to play, explore and hack. I know of Darwin, but with all due respect it is not the same thing.

I read Mac sites because you guys show a love of computing that is born in your platform. I love that! That is why I use Linux, because I love that same fun - but born in a different platform.

However, I both do not use and will not use Mac or Windows because of the lack of flexibility to do "what you want" with the technology. It all just boils down to the type of computer user you are. As far as computer fans go, people are either consumers or producers. I see myself as a producer, so Linux fits me like nothing else could. Others are consumers and just want to do work and couldn't care less if they know relational algebra or big-little-endian encoding - seeing their mobile phone sync with their computer "does it for them". And most Mac users of my association fall into that second category.

And if I did not see myself as a "producer" whom compiling code and going all "Frankenstein" with packages "does it for me" - I would probably also use a Mac and not Windows (definitely). But I believe to make any comment that even suggests that Mac OS X and Linux have anything in common at a deeper level is a patently misleading comparison and shows a deep misunderstanding and comprehension of Linux and the history of the Personal Computing revolution of the past 20 years.

BTW, I love reading your articles!

Richard Ford
Red Hat Certified Engineer

Hi Richard,

I very much enjoyed your letter, and I understand (and agree with) where you're coming from. I've lived my life as a baseball fan in hockey country. I don't disparage the overwhelming majority of my fellow Canadians' passion for hockey, but it just doesn't do it for me. On the other hand, I love baseball.

I guess it's the same with computer platforms. The Mac still brings a smile to my face after a dozen years working on it, because I find the "just works" reliability and its quality of staying out of your way and letting you get on with what you're doing so übercool. Windows users always seem to be accommodating themselves and their work habits to the demands of their computers. I find the Mac accommodates me.

I philosophically agree with you about the freedom and flexibility of open source, and I'm not enchanted by Apple's proprietary tight-assedness and enthusiasm for DRM. I am a mostly vicarious Linux cheerleader, but messing about with code (or even typing commands) just doesn't turn my crank, although I'm thankful that it appeals to others like yourself.

And thanks for reading!


Snow Base Station Repair

From Robert Russo

A few weeks ago my snow base station stopped working. I could connect to the base station via LAN or WiFi, but the base station was not connecting to my DSL modem. It appeared the WAN port was dead.

I did some research and found this website:

I inspected my motherboard, and sure enough, I had the same white residue. I tried cleaning the contacts as suggested, but it didn't solve the problem.

I looked into replacing the base station but in the end decided to to have BSR Tech repair it for $45.

Rob Miller at BSR did an excellent job of communicating what was involved and repaired the base station quickly.

Bob Russo

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the report and tip. Always good to hear of good service experiences.


Extending the AirPort Express Signal

From James Williamson


I'm very keen on getting an AirPort Express, but I want to know if my base station is compatible of AX's WDS (Wireless Distribution System) so I can extend my wireless range to the back of the house. Has anyone compiled a list of stations that will let the AirPort Express tag along for the ride?

James Williamson

Hi James,

I have no idea. Perhaps someone in readerland will be able to help with this one.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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